Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2016-2017 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Review

It's been over a month since Upper Deck released its last product, but the wait is now over! Ultimate Collection has reached hobby store shelves to the delight of high-end hockey card collectors. Ultimate Collection is a high risk, high reward product that is very pricey for the amount of product you actually get. Let's see if fortune favors me with the box that I bought for this review.

Base Card Design -
The base cards for Ultimate Collection are pretty interesting. The standard veteran players are limited to just 99, so getting a base card isn't as common as purchasing a pack as my pack didn't have a veteran base card. These cards are actually kind of rare in comparison to the rookie cards that Upper Deck has jammed into the product. Usually it's the rookies that get the limited treatment - Ultimate Collection flips that concept on its head.

The rookie cards in the main set come in a variety of variations. An acetate version of the rookies are Ultimate Introductions. These rookie cards are done in acetate and have that smooth glassy sheen across the surface. Just as in most Upper Deck products, the players are placed into tiers. Top rookies like Auston Matthews are more difficult to pull. My pull in the pack, Alan Quine, was one of the easiest to get.

The second type of rookie card is the Ultimate Rookies set. This is the more familiar rookie card out of Ultimate Collection. The rookie cards come with a hard-signed signature or various versions of jersey pieces. As always, the nice thing about Ultimate Collection and the other high-end Upper Deck products is that the cards are hard-signed rather than a sticker autograph. This year's Ultimate Rookie Auto looks great as the grey tones give the cards a more serious look. The Ultimate Rookie Autos are separated into two types. Most Ultimate Rookie cards are numbered to 299, but the best of in class have just 99 copies each.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Know what you're getting into when buying Ultimate Collection. The sell sheets will have some pretty spectacular cards to see, but remember that each pack of cards will only yield about 4 or so cards. My pack had all cards from the main set save one.

The one card that wasn't from the main set was this Keystone Fabrics card of Henrik Sedin. It's a medium/small patch card numbered to 49. This was defintiely the 'hit' of the box/pack for me, and it was pretty disappointing. Sedin is not a hot hobby star and this card isn't even that limited in today's market. I'm sure if I wanted to find this card on eBay, it could have it for just a few bucks. But that's the game you play when you dip into products like Ultimate Collection.

Select few collectors will find the real goods in packs. Patch autos and NHL shield cards are the main draw of this set. The rookies numbered to 99 are also card that are highly sought after. But other than that you'll be hard pressed to find anything that really gets you your pack price back.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
In the end, Ultimate Collection is for the high rollers of the hockey card collecting world. My break of the product was pretty mediocre, but I knew what I was getting in to, so I'm not mad about it. I would say there are plenty of other products out there that would yield much better results. If you do have money burning a hole in your pockets though, rather than buy packs of Ultimate Collection... get it by the case. That way you at least are guaranteed the case hit. Usually those are pretty decent pulls.

Overall Rating:


Check out my break of 16/17 Ultimate Collection:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Retail Review #262 (12/13 Black Diamond)

I haven't opened up one of these 12/13 Black Diamond blasters in a while. Black Diamond is not one of my favorite products to get, but the price was right. I'll also open up a pack of Full Force in the video. The Full Force pack was a little extra gift from DaCardWorld when I ordered from them online.

Price - 

Packs - 6
12/13 Black Diamond Blaster Packs

Black Diamond is notorious for really not giving you much out of a blaster. Usually there's a Rookie Gem in there, but I've gotten some where it didn't even have one of those. Quad and triple diamonds can be found as well, but sometimes you're just left with a double diamond or two. Rarely is there ever a blaster with only single diamonds in it. If that were the case I'd be so mad!

Though hits are hard to come by in Black Diamond, they are not impossible. In fact, there have been some hits to come out of Black Diamond blasters in my Retail Review series. Usually the hit will be a jersey card of some kind, but autographs can be found as well in rare instances.

Will there be a hit in this blaster? Lets see:

Review -
I'll start by talking about the Full Force pack. In one pack you really can't expect much, and Full Force wasn't a product that was chock full of hits. That being said, I was glad to at least pull an insert card out of it. Full Force is not a memorable set and I would be hard pressed to say anything about it nowadays. It's probably a good time to re-visit my old review of it.

In terms of the Black Diamond blaster, I'd say this was a pretty typical break of the product. I was able to pull a triple diamond Rookie Gem, but my only other cards of significance were two double diamonds. There were superstar cards I found like Gretzky, Lemieux, and Ovechkin, but those were all in the single diamond category.

Here are my top cards from this break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Drew Doughty Card No. 141
Getting double diamond cards isn't the most exciting prospect as the players in double diamond status in 12/13 tended to be guys who weren't huge hobby stars - rather local stars. Doughty is a pretty big name defenseman, but I would be hesitant to say he is a superstar that all collectors would enjoy finding in packs.

#2 - Michael Hutchinson Card No. 180
The Rookie Gem cards back in 12/13 weren't the best looking. I find it odd that triple diamond cards were spread unevenly across the bottom of the card. That design choice just throws the card off in terms of how it looks. But I'm still glad my blaster came with a Rookie Gem. I'm always sad when they are missing from the box.

#1 - Johnny Bucyk  Card No. 102
I've stated this before, but I like it when the older players get featured on modern products. It's especially cool when the older player photos are on new card technologies like Black Diamond. The contrast is fun to look at, and that's why I put this Johnny Bucyk card as my top choice this week.

Overall Value -
This blaster is about what you can expect when you open up 12/13 Black Diamond. The cards look pretty nice, but you won't find anything that will give you too much bang for your buck. If you enjoy the look of Black Diamond, finding it for under $9 a blaster would be an ok buy I'd say.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Retail Review #261 (14/15 Upper Deck Series One)

What more is there to say about Upper Deck Series One. This is the most solid of solid products and presents the NHL players through beautiful images. Each blaster provides a nice opening experience with 12 packs per box. Though it's not the most valuable product produced, it very may well be the most liked and respected.

Price - 

Packs - 12
12 x 14/15 UD Series One Blaster Packs

Usually, the main draw out of Upper Deck Series One are the Young Guns. These are the rookie cards that collectors clamor for year in and year out. 14/15 had it's share of decent rookies, so hopefully I will be able to find out in this blaster today. UD1 blasters come with two Young Guns each. And these really are the star attraction here. Getting a star player's Young Gun will be far more valuable than pulling out a hard-to-get jersey card from one of these boxes.

There are usually a good number of other inserts and parallel cards to look for when opening up Upper Deck Series One blasters. One of the things I'll be looking for is a Canvas card. These cards have a unique textured feel to them and often feature even more unique photography than the standard base cards.

Let's open this guy up and see what it gives me:

Review -
This blaster was a little dry in terms of variety. Many of the packs I opened here were full of regular base cards. So often now I'm used to finding a little goody in the form of an insert or parallel card. Those type of cards really break up the monotony of base card after base card. Perhaps for a new collector, getting a lot of base cards isn't such a bad thing as they may want to really look at and enjoy each one. For someone like me whose purpose is to find cards that stand out, this break got a bit boring. I don't think this was a bad blaster, it gave me everything I was really looking for, but none of the cards were particularly that exciting. There's always next time!

Here's the top three from today's break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Tommy Wingels Card No. 155
I usually would be Logan Couture in, since I got him too, but I chose Wingels as my Sharks homer card this week because I really liked how he played for San Jose when he was with the team. He was a bruiser that put it all out there. I'll definitely miss the guy!

#2 - Sidney Crosby Card No. HH67
Getting Sid-the-Kid is never bad. He's undeniably one of the best hockey players in the game right now. His team just won another Stanley Cup, so his value in the eyes of collectors is on the rise. I've never been a fan of the Hockey Heroes insert set, but if I had to have one, I'd pick Sid.

#1 - Vladimir Tarasenko Card No. C74
This year's UD Canvas cards are very classy. I particularly like how the 'UD Canvas' logo is in script font. Tarasenko is an excellent hockey player and pulling his Canvas card is definitely sweet.

Overall Value -
I wasn't jumping out of my chair when I opened up this blaster, but overall it provided a good breaking experience. Getting Upper Deck blasters is always fun, and I enjoy seeing which Young Guns come out of them. I certainly would recommend buying these at the current price they are at. Half price is a pretty good deal!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Retail Review #260 (11/12 Panini Pinnacle)

Last week I had the unfortunate experience of opening up a tampered blaster. That blaster did not have the official Panini wrap on it. Thankfully, did me a solid and credited me with an amount on my account equal to what I paid for it in effect refunding my money. This week I've checked the wrap... and it has the Panini logos! This one should be good to go!

Price - 

Packs - 8
11/12 Pinnacle Packs

I've really gotten to love this year's Pinnacle product recently. The 11/12 Pinnacle product has a lot going for it. First of all, the base cards feature some really unique photography featuring NHL players both on and off the ice. It reminds me a lot of Upper Deck's Series One and Two releases. The cards themselves aren't at that quality, but the photography selection certainly is.

Though this isn't a premium product, blasters of Pinnacle generally have a hit inside them. Often times these hits are just jersey cards... but a hit is a hit! It's certainly more than Upper Deck can say about their retail products.

I'll go ahead and see what comes out of this blaster box:

Review -
You could definitely see when dumping out the packs which one had a hit in it. It was so much larger than the other ones in the box. If someone were to search the blaster boxes, it would be extremely easy to cherry pick the hit and leave the rest for some unfortunate soul.

Once again I really enjoyed this break. A majority of the packs in the blaster contained a special non-base card to check out. Each of the blasters of 11/12 Pinnacle I have opened has had a wide variety that was cool to take a closer look at. In the video I stopped a few times just to see the image on the base card - that doesn't happen that often!

These were my favorite three cards from the break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - John Tavares Card No. 196
This Nufex parallel of John Tavares was one of the first non-base cards to come out of the box. JT is a great hockey player with tremendous skill. Playing for the dreadful Islanders all these years hasn't helped him gain popularity, but he is a great player to pull.

#2 - PK Subban/Shea Weber Card No. 9
You guys know I really love Team Pinnacle cards. Getting a Subban one is great for me as I am a fan of his. This card actually features Shea Weber on the back as well. Only the front side of the card is done in Nufex though.

#1 - Brandon McMillan Card No. 37
So my hit ultimately wasn't that great, but you know what? It's a whole lot better than you can say for many Upper Deck products out there nowadays. The Pinnacle Threads jersey cards have a solid design and a nice sized piece of patch for a lower-end product!

Overall Value -
I really recommend getting some 11/12 Panini Pinnacle if you can find it. It's a solid retail product and should be able to be had for a good price nowadays. Each blaster has a hit in it, so there's really nothing to lose!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Retail Review #259 (10/11 Panini Certified)

A perennial favorite of mine, I always love opening up Panini Certified. The cards look great, especially this year's version, and you are guaranteed a hit. Aside from the hit, a Mirror Red or Mirror Blue serial numbered card usually shows up to the party as well. Hopefully something awesome will come out of this old blaster box.

Price - 

Packs - 3
10/11 Certified Packs

It's always exciting to rip open a blaster of Certified. I love the current price on them too. For about the price of a pack, you get a hit! The hits are usually jersey cards, but the occasional autograph will come out. Patches are also a possibility. These cards pretty much parallel the hobby versions, so buying this product is really on-par with what you could find at a specialty card shop.

Enough waiting, I'll just crack this guy open and check out the cards inside:

Review -
OMG WTF!!! This blaster has been tampered with!!! As I was opening it up I checked the wrapper to see if the Panini wrap was on it. It was not. Sometimes this doesn't mean it is bad as I have had some blasters without wrap on it... but in this case it was bad... so very bad. This blaster box had ZERO hits or serial numbered cards. It was full of base. In fact, one of the packs only had 4 cards in it. What a travesty! This has happened to me before... with Certified! It was not this year's version of Certified but it was Certified nonetheless. Oh this is something that really pisses me off! NO TOP THREE THIS WEEK. This box is JUNK.

Overall Value -
Getting a box that has been tampered with is a terrible feeling. It really sucks. Let this video be a lesson to really check the products before you purchase them. Not only with retail, but with hobby as well. This blaster has not soured me to Certified, but it is pretty disappointing to have this happen. I hope it doesn't ever happen to you!

Overall Value Score:

Every Sunday look out for another exciting installment of Retail Review!